It has been three days since the massacre in Orlando. I tried to watch and read some of the coverage of the events and one of the first things I saw was a text message chain between a Mother and a man who ended up being killed. Something broke inside me when I read that and I have barely been able to engage in any coverage since then.
Who are the victims? They are my friends, my co-workers, the artists I admire, my students, my family, my children. My children. My beautiful and brilliant boys; one who was birthed by me and one who was a gift of love from my marriage to his Father. Someone hated people I cherish because of who they love, it is beyond what I can grasp right now.
And, who was the perpetrator. He was a former student. Maybe not a direct student of mine, but he was a student, raised in an educational system that I have given my life career to be engaged. My optimistic self thinks that I can impact a students’ future, that our work in schools will prevent the creation of someone who could inflict such pain.
My realistic self knows that there are a myriad of students who I would not be surprised to hear that they perpetrated some horrible crime on innocent victims. To be totally honest, I have worked with some people that I have the same feeling about. These are students who are so damaged, unable to feel or express empathy, who have been repelled by their families and society, who have a mindset that is paranoid and filled with hate.
It is the belief of many that we just need to find out the characteristics of these perpetrators and stop them from committing crimes. That might make sense if a majority of these folks ended up committing terrible acts, but they don’t. Of all the students I have worked with, only a few have committed a heinous act, the rest learned to live somewhat peacefully in society, at least to the point where I don’t read their names in the paper.
I do know there are things that we can control in the educational setting that will make a difference.
- We must have mental health support for students as part of the educational setting
- We must train our staff about trauma informed care
- We absolutely must refrain from placing students on “home bound instruction” and forgetting that they exist (The Newtown shooter was placed on homebound instruction for years)
- We must celebrate diversity and address the hatred that lives within some of our students
- We must address bullying as it happens and ensure that all students are emotionally save at school and at home
- We must be sure that the adults in the education system in now way engage in bullying behavior with students
- We need programs and staff that are well trained to meet the needs of students who exhibits aggressive and predatory behaviors
As this is a personal blog, I simply cannot refrain from stating that the laws of our country must keep assault weapons out of the hands of civilians, period and end of sentence. Allowing a damaged and demented person access to a weapon that shoots many, many bullets repeatedly is a critically contributing factor to this entire situation.
(June 14, 2016)